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Banning Short Haul Flight Could Destroy Electric Flight Innovation





Speaking as part of the World Aviation Festival’s Sustainability Panel on Wednesday, KLM’s Vice President for Sustainability, Karel Bockstael, commented on the forthcoming short-haul flight ban that will impact sister carrier Air France. While he stated that we are all in a battle against climate change, he also cautioned against measures that could potentially disrupt innovations in sustainable flight in the long term.

KLM embraer 195 e2
KLM’s VP of sustainability cautions against banning short-haul flights at the cost of long-term innovation. Photo: KLM

Alternative guidance needed in the long term

Earlier this month, French lawmakers voted in favor of a bill set to ban flights on routes where there are available train connections in under two and a half hours. The new law was first introduced as part of the environmental strings attached to the government’s aid package to its flag carrier.

Mr Bockstael generally applauds objective regulations that are compatible with fighting climate change. However, he also said that it must be made sure that long-term innovation will not suffer in the process when it came to banning short routes.

“Of course, we understand that trains replacing flights in the current situation might be a good solution. (…) On the other hand, especially on short routes, we must make sure that we are not destroying any innovation, because on the short routes we expect that we will have electric flight and hydrogen flight,” Mr Bockstael said, adding that in the long term alternative guidance would be needed.

Electrical aircraft being tested today are all intended for the short-haul commuter market. Photo: Rolls-Royce

Routes to deploy upcoming models are crucial

Most electric aircraft currently in the pipeline to enter service within the decade are constructed for the short-haul commuter market. While 20 years from now you may be able to buy a ticket for a 100-seater electric aircraft, there is still some way to go in terms of batteries and capacity.

However, to get there, it must first be profitable for companies to make and market their predecessors. They must also be able to funnel money back into R&D. Governments must also provide incentives to assist in the decarbonization of aviation. This is unlikely to occur if there are no routes on which to deploy electric planes with commercial success.


Yesterday, we reported that Norway’s Green Party is also in favor of banning shorter services, despite the country’s reliance on regional connectivity. They also suggest introducing individual flight quotas.

Infrastructure essential for hub carriers

Of its own accord, KLM has already introduced an air-to-rail service, where travelers connecting to Brussels from Schiphol disembark the aircraft and board a train for their last leg of the journey. Or vice versa if they are heading in the other direction.


Trains and aircraft working together are entirely dependent on good infrastructure. Especially for hub carriers such as Air France and KLM, the offers need to be comparable so as not to create an uneven playing field.

KLM refueling Schiphol
KLM is betting big on SAF and has already introduced an air-to-rail initiative between Amsterdam and Brussels. Photo: KLM

Corporate clients have their own value chain

KLM is betting big on biofuel for its sustainability targets. It is doing a good job at selling the use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), which is still two to four times more expensive than traditional jet fuel, to its corporate and cargo clients.

“You have to remember that our business customers, our corporate customers, they also have their own enterprise responsibility in terms of decarbonization. So in the value chain, we see that especially on the business to business, there’s a lot of interest, and also readiness to pay a premium also up to the level of SAF.”

What do you think of restrictions on short-haul flights? Are they a temporary good solution or a potential long-term innovation disruptor? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

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Taos Air returns with nonstop flights from Texas and California




Taos Air (Ultimate JetCharters) Fairchild Dornier 328-300 (328JET) N419FJ (N192T) (msn 3173) HHR (Michael B. Ing). Image: 948971.

Taos Air will restart its jet service offering nonstop flights to and from Austin–Bergstrom International, Dallas Love Field, Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Los Angeles, and McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad.

Service resumes July 1, 2021.

In addition to complimentary shuttle ground shuttle service between the airport and Taos Ski Valley’s award-winning hotel, The Blake at Taos Ski Valley, Taos Air travelers will have abundant activities once they arrive in the ski valley, including:

  • The new Via Ferrata, situated at 11,500 feet in the sub-alpine ecosystem of Kachina Peak, features beginner through advanced climbing route challenges, a 100-foot skybridge, and a double-cable catwalk. Novice climbers can experience the thrill of cabled mountain travel under the supervision of a guide, and progress to vertical terrain with spectacular views of the Rio Hondo and Wheeler Peak Wilderness.
  • The Green Chile Flow Trail is a lift-service mountain bike trail. From the top of Lift 4 all the way to the bottom of the Kachina Basin, the Green Chile flow track is 3.5 miles of buttery banked turns, amazing scenery, and fun for the whole family.
  • The new Blue Corn Trail will further expand the resort’s intermediate mountain bike experience and will gradually expand throughout the summer and fall as the build-out is completed.
  • The newly renovated Williams Lake Trail is a wooded 3.7-mile intermediate trail culminating at a picturesque lake bordered by stunning mountain vistas or at the summit of Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in New Mexico.
  • Scenic chair-lift rides allow riders to breathe in the cool, clear mountain air while enjoying spectacular alpine scenery of the Kachina Basin.

Summer service will consist of twice weekly service from each city to Taos between July 1 through September 27. Taos Air will also offer service for the winter 2021-22 ski season; the booking window will open up later this summer.

Top Copyright Photo: Taos Air (Ultimate JetCharters) Fairchild Dornier 328-300 (328JET) N419FJ (N192T) (msn 3173) HHR (Michael B. Ing). Image: 948971.

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Wisk Aero & Blade Urban Air Mobility Join Forces To Make Electric Air Taxis A Reality




In a further step towards making electric air taxis a reality, Boeing- and Kitty Hawk-backed eVTOL startup Wisk Aero has formed a partnership with Blade Urban Air Mobility to send a fleet of 30 eVTOLs up into the air.

There may be some regulatory hurdles to clear before we begin to see passenger-laden eVTOLs in the sky, but the question most companies are now looking at is more framed by when the regulations will come into play as opposed to if the regulations will come into play. This is a big difference, as the former means it’s only a matter of time before eVTOLs are in commercial operation.

Right now, there are a number of companies investing heavily in the development of eVTOLs, such as CityHawk and EHang. Building a high quality, operational eVTOL is only part of the process though — once the eVTOLs are are allowed to engage in commercial passenger journeys, there is a whole other side of a business that needs to be addressed, namely the logistics side of operating passenger routes.

There are some companies that are aiming to operate vertically and both build eVTOLs and operate the customer side of the business. For example, EHang is managing both sides of the operation. Other companies are looking at different solutions, which makes sense — we don’t expect traditional airplane manufacturers to run an airport and organize flight paths in addition to building the aircraft. This partnership between Wisk Aero and Blade Urban Mobility falls into the latter solution.

Under the terms of this partnership, Wisk will supply Blade with up to 30 eVTOLs. The vehicles will be owned and maintained by Wisk and run on Blade’s existing network of air terminals for short-distance routes. Wisk’s vehicles are touted to be able to carry two passengers for a distance of up to 25 miles when the vehicles are fully charged. Wisk will receive compensation from Blade based on flight times, with Blade expecting to be able to guarantee a minimum number of flight hours given its strong existing network.

Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk, sees the partnership as indication of what is to come. “This arrangement validates that UAM is the future of mobility,” he said. “To date, we have been focused on developing an aircraft and customer experience that is efficient, accessible, and — most importantly — safe. The combination of our expertise as an autonomous eVTOL aircraft manufacturer and operator, with the operational expertise of Blade, will help usher in an even greater level of safety and service.”

This enthusiasm for the collaboration was shared by Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of Blade. “We look forward to working with Wisk to help accelerate Blade’s transition from conventional rotorcraft to safe, quiet, emission-free Electric Vertical Aircraft,” he added.

It appears that as soon as the regulatory hurdles are cleared, the two companies will be raring to go with the project. “The Wisk-Blade arrangement is a perfect fit for our asset light model,” said Will Heyburn, CFO and Head of Corporate Development for Blade. “Backed by Boeing’s deep aerospace experience, Wisk will own, operate and maintain their aircraft as part of our network, allowing Blade to focus on delivering a great experience to our fliers.”

Image credit: Wisk Aero

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Has The Pandemic Slowed Investment In Inflight Connectivity?





The events of 2020 were damaging to aviation at every end of the scale. From airlines and airports to suppliers and support businesses, everyone has felt the pinch, and continues to do so. With airlines emerging from COVID burdened with debt and eyeing the prospect of stifled demand for some time to come, has the longstanding goal to roll out inflight connectivity taken a back seat?

Has COVID set back inflight WiFi? Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Investment will continue

Two years ago, connectivity was seen as the next big investment for all airlines to make, with passengers demanding a seamless experience from ground to air and back again. However, as airlines look to trim costs where they can, it would almost be understandable if inflight WiFi fell down the list of priorities.

On the other hand, with depressed travel demand predicted to continue for several years, attracting passengers is going to be crucial. Simple Flying caught up with Dr Joe Leader, CEO of APEX, the Airline Passenger Experience Association, to see how things look from his perspective. He told us,

“Here’s the good news for connectivity: the investment will continue. The infrastructure and everything needed to make the connectivity of the future advance has all been put in place already, and it provides incentives for airlines to advance their programs.”

Delta WiFi viasat
Development has continued despite COVID. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Throughout the pandemic, despite budgetary squeezes, connectivity providers have continued to roll out their satellite launches at pace. Panasonic’s first XTS payload went live just a couple of months ago, and Inmarsat tripled the capacity of its GX Network in December 2020. Alongside this, the next generation LEO leaders like SpaceX and OneWeb have continued to build their megafleets month by month.

As well as the orbital support, there have been plenty of on-the-ground developments too. Antenna technology continues to move in the right direction, with phased arrays and electronically steerable solutions pressing forward, despite the pandemic. New terminals have been unveiled, and new partnerships formed.

Inmarsat’s GX network tripled its capacity in 2020. Photo: Inmarsat

All in all, the path is being laid towards a better inflight WiFi experience in the future. But what’s been happening on the airline side?


Downtime has facilitated installations

One aspect of the mass groundings of aircraft over the past 12 months has been the added flexibility for airlines to conduct upgrades, maintenance and improvements, without missing the capacity in their networks. Dr Joe explained that, for some airlines, this was an ideal opportunity to speed up their WiFi rollout,

“With some airline executives that I’ve spoken with, they’ve used the downtime to more quickly do installations. For others, they’ve been waiting until they know that an aircraft will be returning to use. But in all cases, they’re advancing. I have not yet seen a program where it has been put completely on the back burner because of the pandemic.”

This is evidenced in the higher number of connected aircraft flying today. British Airways completed its rollout of Inmarsat’s EAN early this year, and KLM outlined plans to bring connectivity to short-haul European flights. Vistara became India’s first WiFi-equipped airline, while ZIPAIR joined the ranks of the very few carriers able to offer it for free.


Vistara Boeing 787
Vistara became the first Indian airline with WiFi. Photo: Getty Images

All this happened despite COVID. Clearly, connectivity is still high on the agenda for airlines around the world, and programs remain on track regardless of the pandemic’s impact. Dr Joe added,

“The next generation of connectivity will continue. It might not be at quite as fast a pace as we all originally envisioned. But it’s going to be nearly at that pace because the infrastructure and equipment have been built.”

What about free WiFi?

The holy grail of inflight connectivity is the day when we can all jump on a plane and stay connected without paying a fee. Dr Joe thinks this is still some way away, but says that there’s another lever airlines can pull in this sphere. He said,

“You can instill a tremendous amount of loyalty into customers if you even give them a taste of free. So we’re seeing some of our airlines, in order to get people to sign up with their frequent flyer program or provide data, they’re giving more and more without charge. Hopefully, that’s a trend that continues.”

Last year, Inmarsat undertook a wide-ranging survey into a wealth of aspects of flying, and how the pandemic has changed passenger needs; its Passenger Confidence Tracker. One such element was the importance of inflight WiFi. The results showed that more than a third of fliers believe inflight WiFi would be even more important in the post-COVID world.


Interestingly, the same proportion of respondents stated that they believed the availability of inflight WiFi would affect their choice of airline on post-COVID trips. That just goes to highlight the importance of continuing investment in this technology, and the advantages it brings to airlines.

Although we may still be some way from widespread, good and free WiFi for all, tasters of free connectivity will undoubtedly boost loyalty in the short term. In the longer term, airlines remain committed to connectivity, and that’s good for everyone.

Join the Virtual Expo to hear more

You can hear more from Dr Joe Leader and some of the industry’s leading airlines and suppliers at the forthcoming FTE APEX Virtual Expo – “Relaunching global air transport” – taking place on the 25-26 May.


It promises to be the most comprehensive global industry gathering of the year, championing bold new ideas, solutions, collaboration and innovation efforts through all-encompassing conference sessions to facilitate an industry recovery that makes air transport even stronger in the long term.

As part of the ‘Relaunching global air transport’ theme, the show will deliver a line-up that reflects the bold new ideas and many new faces that are going to be at the heart of our industry recovery.

The conference will be complemented by a free-to-attend, interactive online exhibition with live product demos, which will include ‘Airport’ and ‘Inflight’ halls, as well as a dedicated ‘Startup Zone.’

Exhibitors already confirmed to showcase their cutting-edge products include Axinom, Burrana, Vision-Box, Global Eagle, Viasat, Elevation Software, TAV Technologies, Omnevo, PXCom, Aerogroup, Airbus, Airfi.Aero, IFPL, KID-Systeme and many more. View the full list of exhibitors here.

Early bird registration ends tomorrow – May 7th – so reserve your place today.

This article is brought to you by Simple Flying Connectivity, a new category on Simple Flying dedicated to inflight connectivity. Click here to read all of our inflight connectivity content.

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ADM Announces its Financial Results at March 31, 2021




MONTRÉAL, May 6, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – ADM Aéroports de Montréal today announced its consolidated operating results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021. These results are accompanied by data on passenger traffic at YUL, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport.

Passenger volumes at YUL totalled 436,000 passengers in the first quarter of 2021, which represents an 89.3% decrease compared with 2020. This sharp decline is directly related to the global health crisis associated with COVID-19 which is having significant negative impacts on all passenger traffic sectors. 

EBITDA (the excess of revenues over expenses before financial expenses, taxes and depreciation and impairment of property and equipment and share of results of a joint venture) was negative $10.8 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021, a decrease of $84.3 million, or 114.7%, compared with 2020. 

ADM’s capital investments were $17.8 million in the first quarter of 2021 ($104.9 million for the same period in 2020). Investments at YUL and YMX were funded by long-term debt.

“ADM Aéroports de Montréal will continue to face significant challenges in 2021. Our forecast for the current year is for a 39% decline in passenger traffic from 2020 and an 89% decline from the year before that. With an estimated 3.3 million passengers at YUL, which is our primary source of revenues, ADM’s financial position will most certainly continue to be challenged. Nevertheless, our team continues to work hard to ensure business continuity and operations at both of our airport locations. In addition, the recent issuance of a new series of revenue bonds with a total principal amount of $400 million will help finance projects that are critical to maintaining the integrity of our assets and position us for the recovery,” said Philippe Rainville, President and CEO of ADM Aéroports de Montréal.

Financial results
Consolidated revenues were $39.1 million in the first quarter of 2021, a decrease of $109.7 million, or 73.7%, compared with the same period in 2020. This is a result of travel restrictions in many countries due to the pandemic, as well as the strategy in place in Canada to manage the pandemic.

Operating expenses for the current quarter were $36.8 million, a decrease of $25.2 million, or 40.6%, compared with the same period in 2020. ADM implemented significant operating cost reduction measures, including those related to the reduction of airport operations and the temporary closure of certain areas of the terminal building. In addition, ADM took advantage of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.

Transfers to governments (payments in lieu of taxes to municipalities and rent to Transport Canada) remained relatively stable at $13.1 million for the period under review ($13.3 million for the corresponding period of 2020), a decrease of $0.2 million, or 1.7%, compared with the corresponding period of 2020.

Depreciation and impairment of property and equipment and right-of-use assets amounted to
$40.4 million in the first three months of 2021, an increase of $1.8 million, or 4.6%, compared with the same period last year. This increase is mainly due to the commissioning of new assets.

Net financial expenses totalled $32.4 million in the first quarter of 2021, an increase of $9.2 million, or 39.7%, compared to the same period last year. The change in net finance expense was primarily due to increased interest expense resulting from the issuance of the Series R Bonds in April 2020 and the costs associated with the consent process, completed in March 2021, for bondholders to temporarily waive certain provisions under the master trust indenture.

For the three months ended March 31, 2021, the deficiency of revenues over expenses was $83.5 million, a decrease of $95.4 million from an excess of revenues over expenses of $11.9 million for the same period in 2020.

 Cumulative at March 31
 (in millions of dollars) 2021 2020 Variance
Revenues 39.1 148.8 (73.7)
Operating expenses 36.8 62.0 (40.6)
Payments in lieu of municipal taxes 9.9 10.0 (1.3)
Rent paid to Transport Canada 3.2 3.3 (2.7)
Depreciation of property and equipment and right-of-use assets 40.4 38.6 4.6
Financial expenses (net) 32.4 23.2 39.7
Total expenses 122.7 137.1 (10.5)
Excess (deficiency) of revenues over expenses before share in
the results of a joint venture and income taxes
(83.6) 11.7 (816.5)
Share in the results of a joint venture net of taxes 0.2 0.2 (12.1)
Income taxes (0.1)
Excess (deficiency) of revenues over expenses (83.5) 11.9 (804.1)
EBITDA (10.8) 73.5 (114.7)
The % variance in this table are calculated with results in thousands.

EBITDA is a financial measure that is not recognized by International Financial Reporting Standards (“IFRS”). It is therefore unlikely to be comparable to similar measures used by other entities that are not airports. EBITDA is defined by the Corporation as the excess of revenues over expenses before financial expenses, taxes and depreciation of property and equipment, and share in the results of a joint venture. It is used by management as an indicator to evaluate operational performance. EBITDA is meant to provide additional information and is not intended to replace other performance measures prepared under IFRS.

Passenger traffic

For the first three months of 2021, traffic at YUL totalled 436,000 passengers, a decrease of 89.3% from 2020. International traffic was down 91.6%, transborder (U.S.) was down 94.6%, while domestic was down 82.3% compared to 2020.

Total passenger traffic*

Aéroports de Montréal (‘000)
2021 2020        Variance
January 215.8 1,598.2 -86.5%
February 111.0 1,531.8­   -92.8%
March 109.2 961.3 -88.6%
Total 436.0 4,091.3 -89.3%

There was a 90.7% decrease in passenger traffic compared with the first quarter of 2019.

*Note: Total passenger traffic includes revenue and non-revenue passengers.

About Aéroports de Montréal
ADM Aéroports de Montréal is the airport authority for the Greater Montréal area responsible for the management, operation and development of YUL Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, certified 4-stars under the Skytrax World Airport Star Rating program, and YMX International Aerocity of Mirabel. 

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